Archive | Hinky History

A Short History of Groundhog Day

Defeat of the Groundhogs!On February 2, it is customary in Canada and the United States to celebrate an annual tradition wherein we allow a chubby burrowing rodent to forecast the weather. This is an important ritual, but not for the reason that many people think.

Many believe this “holiday” can be traced back to an ancient pagan ritual called Imbolc, which was duly adopted by early Christians and turned into Candlemas. (This means Mass of the Candles, in which the clergy would perform ear candling on the most hairy-eared and disgusting member of each parish, in a metaphorical recreation of the time when Jesus performed the Ear Candling of Jergomethia, cleaning the aural canals of a score of waxy hermits, and curing them of their deafness.) Finally, this holiday or “holy day” was further perverted by the German-speaking populations of Pennsylvania, who fused the day with European folklore and a desire to celebrate fersommling, a kind of Pennsylvania Dutch orgy. (Obviously, these depravities are only celebrated by the Fancy Dutch, and eschewed by the more plain sects, such as the Amish, Dunkards and Mennonites.)

However, there live amongst some of the Elders in these plain sects of the Pennsylvania Dutch — or P-Dutch, as they are known on the streets of Philadelphia — the horrible, truthful truth.

Once, North America was largely ruled by these underground rodents of the family Sciuridae, and though they lived largely in peace with the native human populations, the arrival of the white man marked the end of their peaceful co-existence. For when the early settlers began tearing up the forests, and plowing the meadows where the groundhog, or woodchuck, lives, war between all men and the Tcuckbar (as the groundhogs call their own race) began.

The Whistle Pig, preparing to strikeAmongst the Elders of the Dunkards, this is known as the Grundschwein Zehekriege, or literally, “groundhog toe wars”; this name is taken from the favourite martial tactic of the Tcuckbar, which is to sever the large toe of a human being, and thus cause him to lose his balance, fall down, and then have his carotid artery savaged. Normally, groundhogs are peaceful herbivores, but when roused, they can eat up to twice their own weight in human flesh.

It is when they are thus engorged, looking almost like a bristly boar that they are most dangerous. Indeed, one of their other names is taken from this state: while in boar mode, the average groundhog will make a high-pitched sound, from whence their nickname, “whistle pig” derives.

During this dark period of the war, many humans took to fighting one another, or slaughtering local wolf populations, for no-one could believe such excessive butchery could be done by the lowly woodchuck — and the groundhog attackers were always disappearing into holes or climbing trees before humans could spot them. (You didn’t know they could climb trees, did you? Then you probably don’t know about their limited psychokinetic ability to move small objects such as golf balls, musket balls, and human eyes.)

Eventually, through an uncharacteristic adoption of empiric method the P-Dutch Fußführer (or “Foot Leader”), Johann Suppetrinker, figured out it was the groundhogs, and the war turned to the favour of the human forces. Unfortunately, most humans outside the P-Dutch Confederacy did not believe Suppetrinker’s explanation, and it took many years for the humans to gain control of the situation.

Ritual humiliation of defeated groundhogTo this day crack forces of Amish and Mennonite Grundschweinmörders (Groundhog Killers) spend part of every winter season hunting down resistant forces of the dangerous Tcuckbar groundhog clans. Luckily, evolution has done the rest of the work for us, and the remaining non-sentient species is largely harmless, except to the occasional horse or golfer.

But this is why we celebrate Groundhog Day, and the annual humiliation ritual surrounding it. Otherwise, what other explanation could there be for the pomp and elaborate circumstance of this winter rite? Punxsutawney Phil and Wiarton Willie are not terrified by their own shadow, so much as the deep racial memory of seeing the figure of an Amish Grundschweinmörder, poised to spit him on a finely crafted spitzerstock. (Pointed stick.)

And they’ve only been slightly more accurate at predicting the end of winter than the Farmer’s Almanac, the P-Dutch edition included.

Alltop doesn’t believe that Wiarton Willie even exists. Picture of ritually humiliated groundhog courtesy of Scottobear. Brilliant artwork of Whistle Pig preparing to strike by ~Artsammich. Defeat of groundhog poster by Northfield.org.

Selected Media Fads Through the Ages

Von Willendorf venus statue, circa 24,000 bce

24,000-22,000 BC: chunky fertility goddess statues (pictured at right: notice the prominent and large brains.)

10,000 BC: cave painting

4,000 BC: ziggurat construction

3,000-1,250 BC: pyramid raising (later revived by Mesoamericans and I.M. Pei)

1480-1700: Witch burning

1500s: homoerotic sonnet writing

1600s: pirate singing

1700s: pamphleteering

1760-1762: spreading syphilis

1790s: opera

1800s: novel-writing

1900-1914: being optimistic about the future

1919-1922: cutting up pieces of paper and pulling them out of a hat, also, painting

1925: jazz music

1927: soap-based radio

1933: burning books (mostly in Germany)

1951: find-the-commie (kind of like peek-a-boo, but with Senators)

1964: screaming (usually Beatle-related)

1966: TV

1976: disco

1977: DIY pet rocks

1982-1988: taking odds on Reagan-related nuclear holocaust

1987-1997: making answering machine messages (see below)

1998: web sites about your cat

1999: cappuccino drinking (related to dot-com bubble)

2000: looking forward to the future (this didn’t last as long as the previous fad in this genre)

2003: Friendster

2004-2005: blogging

2006: MySpace

2007: Facebook

April 2008: Twitter

2009 (Jan.-Aug): talking/writing/broadcasting about Twitter in MSM.

2009, Sep. 15: Blogging (again, briefly, but only about Dan Brown’s latest “masterstroke of storytelling”

2010 (Jan.-Feb.):getting really excited about the release of the iPad.

2010 (Mar.): trying to remember what all the fuss about the iPad was all about.

2010: “winning

2011: pretending the British Royal family is important

2012: posting pictures of every frickin’ meal on Instagram

2013: twerking

2014: “binge-watching” TV

And yes, Answering machine messages was the most important creative outlet of the nineties!

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Video here if it doesn’t beep.

Alltop and enjoys their Bebo. From my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures. Originally published in 2010, and updated!

Pirate etymology: sea dog

Grrr! by Jesper Egelund

Many believe the term stems from the dog-like appearance of the seal, while others claim it is grizzled old sailors. Both of these are correct, nautically speaking, but not when it comes to the pirate.

Pirates, and more particularly, privateers, became known as sea dogs after the astonishing career of Captain Rufus the Flatulent.

Captain Rufus was given his Letter of Marque by Henry VIII, and plied his trade in the English Channel, off the coast of Aquitaine, and wherever Henry was at war. The privateer campaign in Aquitaine was particular successful, and Captain Rufus took many a prize. (Henry always had a hard time getting these out of Rufus’s jaws, but he was easily distracted by the piles of cooked swan that Henry had lying around the castle.)

In fact, the etymology of the term begins in Aquitaine, where French merchantmen sailors would cry, upon seeing Rufus’s standard (a set of crossed bones), “sauve qui peu, c’est le chein du mer!” (Sometimes they would just wet themselves and jump in the ocean without shouting anything.)

This “cheien du mer” cry quickly became anglicized, and is the now-famous, “sea dog.”

Alltop Grrr!, a photo by Jesper Egelund on Flickr.

Fly the Flensing Skies

turbineIn the late 1960’s Albanian Airlines’ passengers had overwhelmingly rejected their, “only a sissy needs a seatbelt,” marketing slogan.

Their subsequent efforts were equally ineffective at increasing their revenues, including the following notions:

  • no alcohol or tobacco on our flights, but we provide scopolamine
  • bring your own seat (lawnchairs, hammocks, blankets acceptable)
  • we don’t mind goats, just share!

Finally, they discovered the magic of extortion.

Alltop will extort a laugh any way they can.